Graduate Colloquium: "Religion and Economic Dignity in Neoliberal Los Angeles, 1985-1995"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 9:30am
Meyerson G-12

Please join us for the next Urban Studies Graduate Student colloquium, with coffee, croissants and conversation on Tuesday March 19, 9:30-11am, in the Office of the Institute of Urban Research, Meyerson Hall G-12. The series provides a way for graduate students who are or have been a part of the Urban Studies Certificate program to come together to share their work.

Author: Sean Dempsey, History

Discussant: Ram Cnaan, Professor and Director, Program for Religion and
Social Policy Research, School of Social Policy and Practice

In the 1980's and early-90's, religious institutions from a broad spectrum of faith traditions continued to respond to the needs of economically marginalized neighborhoods such as East and South Central Los Angeles through a combination of community economic development efforts and social service organizations that bore a striking resemblance to Great Society-era programs in some of the very same neighborhoods. However, at a time in which far less federal and other government aid was available for the needs of major American cities, religious groups in Los Angeles increasingly began partnering with the local business community and even modeling their efforts on small businesses with the goal of effecting grassroots economic change in their communities. To accomplish this, they drew on older traditions of congregation-based community organizing and activism, as well as evolving ideas concerning the "economic dignity" of all people, to respond to an increasingly neoliberal economic and political landscape. In so doing, religious organizations played an essential, yet contradictory, role in neoliberal Los Angeles by critiquing an economic and political order that they often implicitly endorsed.